It used to be that seed companies would shy away from autoflowering or anything having to do with Ruderalis because it is basically equated with ditchweed. And there used to be this great fear that this “wild” pot would contaminate the world’s supply of good weed with less potent crap. But this argument has lost its sway. By now, we are many plant breeding generations later – at least twenty or more. Enough time to breed out any undesirable traits resulting from the Ruderalis, like lower potency, while conserving the autoflowering trait. However many of the early reports of low potency, in my opinion, had to do with the lack of knowledge about how to grow and when to harvest autoflowers, as much than an actual tendency.
On the Dutch side, Sensi Seeds had already been offering Ruderalis Skunk and Ruderalis Indica in its catalog for some time, one of famed breeder Nevil’s experimental crosses. In the description it still says: “Around 50% of Ruderalis Skunk plants will auto-flower. As with Ruderalis Indica, blooming starts at the 5th to 7th set of branches, typically within 5-10 weeks of germination, depending on how quickly plants are able to vegetate in a given climate. The other 50% of plants grown from seed will react to photoperiod, and will be triggered to flower around the same time as strains such as Early Girl and Early Skunk. This makes it possible for garden growers to have a double harvest each season with Ruderalis Skunk.” So Ruderalis Skunk only autoflowered some of the time – it seems the breeder was unable or unwilling to stabilise the trait.
For me, the traditional classification system’s usefulness, the whole sativa-indica-ruderalis thing, has its limits. Because after a while all these lines and borders start to get too complicated, and seem vague and arbitrary. Things are not that clean-cut. And they are almost beside the point: We could argue about these semantic and botanical classification issues for eons, but things won’t really be cleared up until genetic scientists concentrate on Cannabis and actually decode the myriad of complex and ancient lineages that lead to the present.
An article was published in Cannabis Culture in 2003, titled “The return of Ruderalis” by DMT. While Lowryder is not mentioned by name, probably because it was still too obscure, the article goes into an interesting discussion about the potential that Ruderalis hybrids might hold for the future. “Deep in the North American woods lurks a recent addition to the marijuana gene pool: Ruderalis hybrids!” The author goes on to conclude that, “a couple of auto-flowers on the back deck will likely fit the lifestyle of many more folks than would an ordinary grow room.”
Since then, many new and better autoflowering varieties have been released, most but not all directly descended from Lowryder. These new varieties combine the taste and potency of proven varieties with the short stature and quick growth of the wild ancestor.
It’s actually easier to explain what autoflowering is to a non-grower. People without preconceptions about Cannabis growing easily grasp the concept of a determinate lifespan, rather than one that depends on the light cycle or season. They don’t have to unlearn anything. That’s part of the reasons why many entry-level growers are attracted to Autoflowers.
Lowryder was the first 100% autoflowering variety to actually be marketed. It is the product of a cross between Northern Lights #2, William’s Wonder, and an unknown plant called “Mexican Rudy” which I had obtained from a longtime friend. It was an accidental discovery I made that led to the breakthrough. The experimental cross began to flower almost immediately after the seedling stage, under 24 hours of light! Luckily, I was able to stabilise the trait.
I think it’s high time that Ruderalis and/or autoflowering be granted its own category in the Cannabis competitions of tomorrow. Let’s reunite the family!
Limits of Taxonomy
SEEDS More about Lowryder and the origin of Autoflowering plants. Autoflowering has come a long way in the past ten years. When Lowryder first came out, circa 2003, autoflowering was